What is Diastolic Blood Pressure?

Diastolic blood pressure is the force of blood in the arteries as the heart relaxes between beats

What is Diastolic Blood PressureOn the previous page, we looked at Systolic blood pressure, but what is diastolic blood pressure?

Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading. For example 140 over 80.

Diastolic blood pressure has been and remains, especially for younger people, an important hypertension number.

The higher the diastolic blood pressure the greater the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.

As people become older, the diastolic pressure will begin to decrease and the Systolic blood pressure begins to rise and becomes more important. A rise in systolic blood pressure will also increase the chance for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.

Your health professional will use both the systolic and the diastolic blood pressure to determine your blood pressure category and appropriate prevention and treatment activities.

Diastolic pressure does not need to be high for you to have high blood pressure. When that happens, the condition is called “isolated systolic hypertension,” or ISH.

Is Isolated Systolic High Blood Pressure Common?

Yes. It is the most common form of high blood pressure in older people. For most people, systolic blood pressure increases with age, while diastolic increases until about age 55 and then declines. About 65 percent of hypertensives over age 60 have ISH. You may have ISH and feel fine.

As with other types of high blood pressure, ISH often causes no symptoms. To find out if you have ISH — or any type of high blood pressure — see your health professional and have a blood pressure test. The test is quick and painless.

Is Isolated Systolic High Blood Pressure Dangerous?

Any form of high blood pressure is dangerous if not properly treated. Both numbers in a blood pressure test are important, but, for some, the systolic is especially meaningful. That’s because, for those persons middle-aged and older, systolic pressure gives a better diagnosis of high blood pressure.

If left uncontrolled, high systolic pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, kidney damage, blindness, or other conditions. While it cannot be cured once it has developed, ISH can be controlled.

Clinical studies have proven that treating a high systolic pressure saves lives, greatly reduces illness and improves the quality of life. Yet, most people do not have their high systolic pressure under control.
Does it Require Special Treatment?

Treatment options for ISH are the same as for other types of high blood pressure, in which both systolic and diastolic pressures are high. ISH is treated with lifestyle changes and/or medications.

The key for any high blood pressure treatment is to bring the condition under proper control. Blood pressure should be controlled to less than 140/90 mm Hg. If yours is not, then ask your health professional why. You may just need a lifestyle or drug change, such as reducing salt in your diet or adding a second medication.

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Related Topics:

What is Systolic Blood Pressure
Systolic pressure is the force of blood in the arteries as the heart beats. It is shown as the top number in a blood pressure reading

Monitoring Blood Pressure at Home
One of the greatest benefits of monitoring your blood pressure yourself is that you will have a much better understanding of your condition.

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